Summer is here – the favourite season for love, ice creams and blueberries! Let’s celebrate that with a truly exquisite blueberry ice cream. Unlike other, more blueberry-centric, recipes, this one comes loaded with the complementary flavours of exotic cardamom, cookie crumbles and whisky! A strange combination? That may be – but it delivers big time! Come and have a closer look at one of the possibly tastiest ice creams I’ve tried!
My own curiosity about this rare combination of flavours was hopelessly triggered when I browsed through an entertaining cookbook with Swedish regional dishes in a second-hand shop a few weeks ago: Credits to the inventive Annie Söder who came up with the splendid idea to combine blueberries with cardamom, biscuits and whisky, and thus served as my major source of inspiration!
Worried about the whiskey? This is not really an “alcoholic” ice cream. We’ll only add 3 tablespoons and those who prefer to exclude any alcohol can do so – the ice cream will still be very nice! However, the whisky does add a particular background flavour aspect to the overall complexity of the ice cream, so I’d still warmly recommend it.
First, let’s make a cake … or at least some crumbles
Guess what? The cardamom and the cookies in this ice cream will be combined – by you! It is still very easy, because you’ll actually only make cookie crumbles: if you can crush a few digestive cookies and add some pounded and crushed cardamom seeds to that, you are basically there!
So – grab hold of some cardamom pods, open them and take out the seeds. Crush them in a mortar.
Next, crush four digestive biscuits. Add the crushed cardamom to the crumbles.
Melt a little butter in a saucepan and add the spiced-up crumbles. Take off from the heat and mix thoroughly until all the butter has been absorbed by the crumbles. Now, put the crumbles on a baking tray (no need to try to form them into new cookies or something, since it is the crumbles we are after!) and bake them for seven minutes in 175º C / 347º F. Set aside the crumbles to cool down (and preferably chill).
Mash the blueberries and make the custard base
Mash the blueberries and set aside for now: we will add them once the custard base has been taken off the stove (as always, letting the pureed berries chill in the fridge is a very good idea).
Since blueberries come packed with pectin (nature’s own gelling agent) and the cookie crumbles also provide quite a lot of solids, we “only” need four eggs (and by all means: If you have issues with eggs, feel free to use another ice cream base!)
Since I’ve become an avid fan of the “modernist” approach to making ice cream custard, we will skip the whole “temper the eggs with sugar” preparatory steps and instead simply mix most base ingredients – the eggs included – and heat them together from the very start.
Thus, combine the sugar, the cream, the milk, the vanilla and the eggs in a sauce pan. Whisk well and bring to an almost-boil: in more exact terms, up to the so-called nappe stage, which translates into about 82-84º Celsius (189-183 ºF). If you have no thermometer, this is when you should be able to draw a line that stays through the custard on the back of a spoon (hence the name “Spoon test”). For added ease of mind, use a thermometer! And remember to whisk all the time – you don’t want to end up with scrambled eggs!82 degrees C) while continuing to whisk.
Take off from the heat, let cool down a little and add the whiskey. Then, preferably, let the base chill overnight in your refrigerator. The cookie crumbles will be added only towards the very end of the process.
On adding the whisky
When should the whisky be added? If you have a reasonably effective ice cream machine, you could well do it already when the base has been taken off the stove and has begun to cool down.
In case you have a less effective ice cream machine, or if you plan on still-freezing your ice cream using your ordinary freezer, I would recommend to add the whisky only towards the end of the churning process. The alcohol will prolong the time it takes for the base to freeze properly, so you should be able to save time (and thus improve final quality) if you only add it towards the very end.
The final step – adding the cardamom crumbles
When the ice cream has begun to solidify during the churning, it is time to add the cardamom crumbles. Why not before? The cookie crumbles, solid as they are, would simply sink to the bottom of the ice cream if added too early!
By now, they should be cold (preferably even chilled) and ready to join the ice cream base. If you prefer, you may even wait until after the churning is finished and simply stir them into the ready-made ice cream afterwards.
Summer’s most memorable ice cream?
Summer is supposed to be the season of love, and as far as culinary love goes, I’ve clearly lost my heart (taste buds?) to this frozen gem! Yes, I’d even name it a strong contender for an entry on my “most delicious ice creams ever”-list.
The overall flavour is exquisite – complex, refined and blissfully delicious! Clearly, this is not a “typical” blueberry ice cream – all the distinct flavours combine and balance each other into a whole which turns out to be so much more than just the sum of its parts! The crumbles add both to the texture and to the flavour, loaded with cardamom as they are. As noted, the whisky mainly serves as a background tone, but one which resonates perfectly with the berries and the other ingredients. This is also an ice cream which stores well in the freezer, and I personally think that it even gained a little from a few hours of additional firming-up in the freezer. The ice cream also stores impressively well – even after a more than a full week in the freezer, it retained its pleasant and scoopable consistency.
So – while I hope that inevitable summer favourites like strawberry ice cream also will lighten up your summer, don’t miss out on this one! Who knows? You might be in for one of your best ice cream memories ever!
- 200 gram blueberries
- 20 gram butter
- 4 Digestive biscuits
- about 1 teaspoon cardamoms (whole, to be crushed)
- 4 egg yolks
- 150 ml sugar [or xylitol, for a very sugar-like "sugar alternative"]
- 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla extract [alternatively 2 teaspoons vanilla sugar]
- 3 tablespoons whisky
- 250 ml (1 cup) cream
- 250 ml (1 cup) milk
- Substitute the milk above with 250 ml (1 cup) of crème fraîche [ a kind of sour cream, with similar fat content as cream!]
- Turn on the oven for 175º C / 347º F.
- Melt the butter.
- Crush the Digestive biscuits well, pound the cardamom kernels in a mortar, and mix all with the butter.
- Pour out onto a baking tray.
- Roast in the oven for about 7 minutes. Take out, let cool down and dry out. Set aside for now.
- Mash the blueberries and set aside, preferably to chill, for later.
- Combine all other ingredients (except for the biscuit crumbles, the blueberries and the whiskey) in a saucepan. Whisk well.
- Bring to an almost-boil (= about 82-84º Celsius /189-183 ºF: the so-called nappe stage). Take off from the heat to cool down.
- Add the mashed blueberries and the whisky.
- Leave to chill in the freezer for a couple of hours or longer.
- Whisk well and churn the base in your ice cream machine!
- When the ice cream almost is finished, add the cookie crumbles.